First, let's start with the Big Ten Standings.
(Now would be a good time to note that CQ must correct earlier articles that say the top-6 teams in the standings then the two best remaining RPIs make the Big Ten Tournament. There was confusion and misinformation floating around about the manner in which a team could qualify. We did our best to verify and were comfortable with the sources. But, it turns out, the top-8 in the standings get in.)
The first team that can help Indiana is Indiana. With one Big Ten series left, the Hoosiers could use a sweep. 12-10 should put Indiana out of reach for Minnesota who finishes with series at Iowa and hosting Michigan State. 11-11 might also do that. Minnesota would need to win five of its last six just to tie IU if the Hoosiers can take two from Ohio State. Plus, as we've already discussed, if Indiana is to make it to the big dance, they can't afford a series loss to Long Beach or OSU. So, Indiana winning is the first step.
But, Iowa and Michigan State are the next two teams that can help IU. If they both take two of three from Minnesota, Indiana would finish ahead of Minnesota and qualify for the conference tournament even if they get swept by the Buckeyes.
Michigan State can also help Indiana by finding its way into the Top-25. D1baseball.com has the Spartans just on the outside looking in. If they can find their way in, the series loss to Sparty won't look so bad on paper.
Before we go any farther, here's a look at the remaining Big Ten matchups:
Ohio State at Maryland
Nebraska at Purdue
Minnesota at Iowa
Penn State at Michigan State
Northwestern at Michigan
Rutgers at Illinois
Ohio State at Indiana
Nebraska at Illinois
Northwestern at Maryland
Michigan State at Minnesota
Penn State at Purdue
Rutgers at Iowa
So what do you root for? Well, it's probably in everyone's best interest for Illinois to keep winning. A national seed can only help everyone in the conference looking for an at-large bid. The Illini have won 21 in a row and don't show any signs of slowing down. Rutgers certainly won't do that.
Indiana could use an Illinois sweep on the final weekend against Nebraska. Currently, the Huskers are 0.5 game back of Indiana. You have to assume that Nebraska will win at least two at Purdue. If they go 2-1, that would make the Hoosiers and Nebraska tied heading into the last weekend. If Nebraska sweeps the Boilers, IU would trail by a full game. So, root for Purdue this weekend (don't throw up) and Illinois next weekend.
Then, let's be for Maryland. Indiana clubbed the turtles and knocked them out of the Top-25. It could go a long way with the committee if the Terps find their way back in. Plus, if Maryland were to sweep Ohio State or at least take the series, the Buckeyes would be 12-9 or 13-8 coming into Bloomington to face the 9-10 Hoosiers. That's right. Indiana could pass Ohio State in the Big Ten standings. But only if the Bucks lose their last five or six conference games, including all three at Bart Kaufman. (If Ohio State finished 13-11 and Indiana finished 12-10, Indiana would have a higher win %.)
And finally, let's be for Northwestern this weekend. If the Wildcats can sweep Michigan (highly unlikely) Big Blue would finish 12-12, meaning an Indiana sweep of Ohio State would put the Hoosiers past them in the standings.
One other tidbit: If Michigan State isn't going to push their way into the Top-25, Indiana would be better served by them tanking and losing five or six of their last six.
So, what scenarios do we want to see?
1. Indiana sweeps Ohio State. Illinois wins out. Maryland wins out. Michigan State loses out. Nebraska loses out. Northwestern sweeps Michigan. Iowa sweeps Minnesota. This would make the Big Ten standings look like this:
5 - 13. Who cares
Too complicated and way too much wishful thinking for your taste? Here's the simplified scenario:
2. Indiana sweeps Ohio State. Or, Indiana takes two of three from OSU, Minnesota loses at least two games or Nebraska loses at least three games. Or Indiana takes one from OSU, Minnesota loses three or Nebraska loses four. Or, Indiana gets swept, Minnesota loses four games or Nebraska loses five. Indiana makes the Big Ten tournament.